February 2, 2024

Hydro Rate Increases Unnecessary for Building Sector
Report Proves Benefits of a Geothermal Utility

In light of recent comments by Manitoba Hydro CEO Jay Grewal, Manitoba’s Climate Action Team (CAT) is highlighting an opportunity to save homeowners money and reduce electricity demand by creating a new geothermal utility.

“Our Road to Resilience reports have clearly identified that a geothermal utility will save homeowners money and provide Hydro with more power capacity than they have right now,” states CAT spokesperson Curt Hull. “There should be no need for any new electricity rate increases from the building sector.”  

A utility-scale approach to ground-source geothermal infrastructure will provide carbon-free, year-round heating and cooling in all types of Manitoba buildings. Ground-source geothermal is already used in several thousand Manitoba homes and in many signature buildings, including Manitoba Hydro’s award-winning downtown head office.

“Ground-source geothermal is incredibly energy efficient. Each home currently using electric heat that we convert to geothermal will save enough peak load to convert two homes of similar size that were using fossil gas for heating,” explains Hull. “That 2:1 ratio means Manitoba Hydro can help every homeowner save money through dramatically lower energy bills, and also gain between 300-400 MW of additional capacity. That’s about double the size of the recent Wuskwatim dam, which cost $1.3 billion.”

Internationally renowned geothermal designer Ed Lohrenz, CEO of GEOptimize Inc, confirms Hull’s numbers.

“Here in Manitoba, about 45% of Manitoba Hydro customers use electric heat. We can cut their demand on the grid and greatly reduce their monthly Hydro bills with a switch to geothermal,” says Lohrenz. “That new capacity can be used to extend similar savings to homeowners currently using fossil fuel for heating, especially if the price of carbon continues to rise.”

Hull notes the advantages of a utility approach include fairness and economic efficiency.

“Establishing a new utility means everyone is included on the same terms, just like we already do for other utilities like water, sewer, electricity and fossil gas,” he says. “We also capture economies of scale and avoid hitting homeowners with the full cost all at once. Just like with other utilities, we would all pay a small fee as part of our monthly bills towards the amortized cost of the utility infrastructure, but that fee would be smaller than your new energy savings so it produces a win-win-win for people, Hydro and the planet.”



CTV – Why climate action groups are calling for geothermal heating in Manitoba

Winnipeg Free Press – Environment groups urge NDP to turn to geothermal heating